Jakarta – The shooting of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani in Kampung Hitadipa in Intan Jaya Regency, Papua, on September 19, conjured up memories of similar incidents in Gustaf Rudolf Kawer's mind.
He was still a primary student in 1984 when the death of Papuan anthropologist and artist Arnold Clemens Ap rocked his homeland. Arnold was shot to death by Sandi Yudha Command Forces – now Special Elite Forces (Kopassus) – and his body thrown to the sea.
Seventeen years later on November 10, 2011, Dortheys 'Theys' Hiyo Eluay, Papuan customary leader, was also shot dead by Kopassus members. "I thought to myself, these incidents don't seem to stop," said Gustaf, 44, from Jayapura during a special interview via video with Tempo last Wednesday, November 4.
The human rights lawyer said the probes into alleged violence by the security forces against the Papuan people went nowhere in spite of clear indications of human rights violations in many cases. The cases were seldom solved or only solved in the court-martial, let alone reached human rights courts. Citing Elsam Papua's report, Gustaf said the number of human rights violations in Papua since its annexation by Indonesia amounted to 749 cases. However, only the Abepura incident that broke out on December 7, 2000, reached the human rights court. "That's just one case and the perpetrators were acquitted by the cassation court in the end," said Gustaf, the chairman of Papuan Human Rights Lawyers' Association.
Gustaf added that the only time the Papuan people enjoyed space to express their opinions was during the era of President Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur. Things went downhill again afterward including during President Joko Widodo's rule. Looking at the fact that President Jokowi has set up the Intan Jaya Joint Fact-Finding Team to resolve the shooting of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani via a political channel, Gustaf feels Jokowi is not serious enough about resolving issues in Papua albeit his record as the president who has made the most visits to Papua. The fact-finding team formed to investigate the case was deemed intended to solve it politically.
To Tempo, Gustaf recounted his experiences of handling alleged human rights violations in his homeland. He pointed out that the exploitation of natural resources had forced the Papuans out of their homes and to become victims of abuse by the security forces. He believes that the government's lack of seriousness has worsened the situation.
Why do you feel that the joint fact-finding team (TGPF) is not determined to unravel the shooting of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani?
All the shootings in Papua including the one involving Pastor Zanambani are repeat incidents since Papua's integration to Indonesia. In 2011, the same fate befell Theys Eluay. The military at first denied their wrongdoings but the results of the investigation by our NGO (non-governmental organization) friends pointed to their direction. But they still denied it. Then a more thorough investigation showed Kapassus' involvement. But the result said it did not find human rights violations so the case was only tried by a military tribunal in Surabaya (East Java). Now it's the same story with Pastor Zanambani's killing.
What hasn't been revealed by the Intan Jaya TGPF's investigation?
The investigation by our friends at the church found indications of the Indonesian Military's (TNI) involvement. Then, the result of an independent investigation by the Papuan Human Rights Coalition also pointed to the TNI. And they kept on denying after the TGPF ambiguously declared that the perpetrators were either TNI personnel or unknown armed assailants. At last, the National Human Rights Commission's (Komnas HAM) probe confirmed TNI's involvement and that the perpetrator was the deputy commander of the Hitadipa military subdistrict command (Danramil) based in Intan Jaya. I have to say this is sad because these incidents keep on happening and there is no comprehensive resolution for violence against Papuan people.
Violence against the Papuan people goes on. What are the root causes?
If the government wants to be honest, the crux of the matter is the natural resources. The exploitation of natural resources is mostly carried out through a military approach which led to human rights violations. This has happened repeatedly since the 1969 integration until now. We know the government's plan to exploit natural resources especially gold in the Wabu Block. And then the government sought a military approach again, and again the civilians were the victims in the process.
(In a copy of the letter dated July 24, that Tempo received, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, responding to the request sent by the CEO of Mining Industry Indonesia on February 20, issued a recommendation for a special mining permit to mine in the 40,000 hectares Wabu Block in Intan Jaya which previously was known as the Block B belonging to Freeport Indonesia.)
Was Pastor Zanambani one of those activists advocating the exploitation of gold in Intan Jaya?
We heard that the Pastor often advocated for the victims of abuse including torture by the security forces. He stood up for the people. In the latest incident, the soldiers ordered the people to gather at the church and threatened them. Pastor Zanambani helped the residents and the TNI considered him as inconveniencing the state.
Was Pastor Zanambani deliberately targeted?
Yes, he was targeted for being vocal about the people's rights. That's what Papuan Human Rights Coalition's investigation found. Komnas HAM's findings also indicated a design by the army to eliminate people who they deem as a nuisance.
Was the Pastor terrorized or intimidated before he was murdered?
According to the investigation, there was an incident prior to the murder where an unknown group stole (military) weapons. The soldiers accused the people around the area of being involved in the theft. Then the villagers were rounded up in the churchyard and terrorized by the personnel including the deputy commander of the Hitadipa subdistrict command. He said they would kill anyone who got in the way including Pastor Zanambani. The victim's family said they saw the deputy commander and several of his men head towards the pigsty where the pastor was killed. They said it was the deputy commander named Alpius who pulled the trigger.
Read the Full Interview in Tempo English Magazine: https://magz.tempo.co/read/37218/gustaf-rudolf-kawer-chairman-papuan-human-rights-lawyers-association-jokowis-approach-to-papua-not-humanistic